I’ve written several times previously about the Toronto District School Board, the Valley Park Middle School, and the controversy over officially approved sex-segregated Muslim prayers at the school during school hours.
Sergei Bourachaga sends the following essay examining the issue in the larger context of the treatment of women in Islam, and creeping sharia in Ontario.
An Open letter to YWCA Canada
by Sergei Bourachaga
In information kits provided to the media, YWCA promotes itself as an organization that “works actively for the development and improved status of women and for responsible political, social, and economic changes that will achieve peace, justice, freedom, and equality in Canada and around the world”. The organization prides itself on being a strong voice of leadership in shaping Canadian public institutions “in order to achieve equity and equality for all women”.
A few years ago, when politicians in Ontario were working hard to evaluate the merits of a proposal submitted to the Ontario government to establish a network of Islamic Sharia Family Law tribunals to arbitrate domestic matters such as divorce, custody, and support payments, the Toronto YWCA, the city’s largest and only women’s multi-service organization, vehemently denounced Sharia tribunals and all government-sanctioned religious arbitration. YWCA of Toronto Executive Director Heather McGregor, seeing an imminent threat that would undermine the sacrifices of thousands of women who fought for dignity and equality in Canada, condemned the attempt to integrate religious institutions into a secular justice system. She pointed out that “…the rise in fundamentalist interpretation of most major religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, expressly erodes the rights of women, and that religious law should not be part of the laws of any secular country.”
During the struggle to prevent the introduction of Sharia family law into our secular justice system, YWCA proudly forged an alliance with Homa Arjomand, the leader of the International Campaign Against Shari’a Court in Canada, who often argued that “…under Sharia law, based on several verses from the Koran and canonical books written in the 10th and 11th centuries, combined with oral laws from even earlier, a woman’s worth is half that of a man. Women are considered to be under the supervision of men, whether they are husbands or fathers. In a property dispute women can receive only half of what a man receives. Often, men are more likely to get custody of children, particularly boys, in a divorce.” Most experts in Islamic theology point out that, not only is a Muslim woman required to be under the supervision of a man, initially her father or brother, and then later on in life her husband, but a Muslim man should constantly impose full obedience on the females of his household by reminding each and every woman in his life that his authority is rooted in the will of Allah, clearly stated in the following Koranic verse:
“Men have authority over women because Allah has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because Allah has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Allah is high supreme”. (Koran 4:34)
Arjomand, who fled Iran in 1989, constantly reminded provincial politicians that “millions of women are suffering and being oppressed under Islamic Sharia law in many different parts of the world, …even the mere suggestion of Sharia tribunals (in Ontario) causes an atmosphere of fear among women who come from ‘Islamic’ countries. If this [Sharia tribunals] gains validity it will increase intimidation and threats against innumerable women and it will open the way for future suppression.”
Arjomand was not alone in her struggle against Islamic fundamentalism. A group of ten prominent Canadian women, including writer Margaret Atwood and Flora MacDonald, a former member of Parliament, issued an open letter in September 2005 to Ontario Premier McGuinty, in which they passionately argued “that religious arbitration would lead to human rights abuses, particularly for women and children, and undermine the separation of religion from the state.” We all know the end result of this appeal; Sharia Law in Ontario was scrapped, and McGuinty decided that “there will be one law for all Ontarians”.
Islamic fundamentalism did not concede the loss of a war against secularism with the verdict announced by Mr. McGuinty. Many Islamic websites insisted that only one single battle was lost, in a protracted war that will mobilize for decades generations of Muslim believers against Ontarian infidels (Jews and Christians) in particular, and Canadian infidels in general. Without losing any valuable time, a fresh assault was launched and the new battle front moved to the corridors of power within an institution known as TDSB (the Toronto District School Board).
The plan adopted by religious strategists was very simple. Use and abuse the strong predisposition of Ontarians to accommodate cultural and religious differences, to impose on public schools the Islamic religious prayer requirement on Fridays. Then, use and abuse the privileges accorded to your Islamic prayer activities in public secular institutions to promote the will of Allah, i.e. the political agenda of Islamic fundamentalism, explicitly expressed in the hundreds of verses of the Koran.
Islamic fundamentalists obsessively insist that Allah gave the Prophet Mohammad a clear mandate to wage war on any tribe, country, or human being who did not believe or accept the principles advocated by Islam:
“Prophet, make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal sternly with them. Hell shall be their home, evil their fate” (The Koran 66:9).
“We will put terror into the hearts of the unbelievers. They serve other Gods for whom no sanction has been revealed. Hell shall be their home; dismal indeed is the dwelling place of the evil-doers” (The Koran 3:149).
“Cast into hell every hardened unbeliever every opponent from the people of the Book (Jews and Christians), and every doubting transgressor who has set up another god besides Allah. Hurl him into the fierce, tormenting flames” (The Koran 50:21).
Every single verse used from the Koran thus far indicates very clearly that the Allah of Islam is cruel and impotent/powerless. He is not happy with the refusal of the Jews and the Christians to convert to Islam, and His dissatisfaction is clearly reflected in the following verse:
“He that chooses a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him and in the world to come he will be one of the lost” (The Koran 3:85).
So Allah finds it more appropriate for Jews and Christians to lose their lives in this earthly journey by the sword of the Prophet or the martyrdom of a modern Muslim “Shahid” (Arabic word meaning martyr), rather than be lost souls, beyond salvation, in the life to come.
Throughout history, for Muslim military strategists, the previous Koranic commands meant waging an offensive war on countries that refused to convert to Islam. In any offensive war, the attacking army sustains extremely high casualties, depending on how well the attacked cities or countries are fortified. It meant also that Islam should have a plan to maintain a strong demographic balance, and societies and countries who have accepted the will of Allah should generate a very high number of newborns, preferably male newborns that will eventually replenish the ranks of the depleted Islamic armies. All these battlefield calculations placed on Muslim men the critical principle of imposing a blind obedience on Muslim women, who had to mobilize their reproductive capacities to the service of Allah’s will. The less they challenged the principle of multiple pregnancies, and the more they concentrated on serving the political agenda of Islam, the more successful the military might of Islam will be.
Early in their experiences, Muslim men noticed that brute force does generate submission, but to maintain it, isolation was required to secure the long-term cooperation of Muslim women. The “niqab”, “hijab”, “burqa” were ideal tools of isolation and oppression. Every time a Muslim women stepped outside her home, her outfit reminded her that she does not have a unique identity based on her facial traits. Her only distinguishing characteristics are the ones imposed on her by hers husband: a) Blind obedience to her Muslim husband. b) Avoidance of any form of contact with Jews or Christians — the vilest creatures in mankind:
“The unbelievers among the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) and the pagans shall burn forever in the fire of hell. They are the vilest of all creatures” (The Koran 98:7).
“Believers, do not make friends with any men other than your own people. They will spare no pains to corrupt you. They desire nothing but your ruin. Their hatred is clear from what they say, but more violent is the hatred which their breasts conceal” (The Koran 3:117).
“Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews…” (The Koran 5:82)
Muslim men were always afraid that People of the Book might point out to a pious Muslim woman that “brute force pushed her into slavery and blind obedience, and from her end cowardice about revolt perpetuated the rest until our present day.”
Nowhere is the contempt Islamic fundamentalism has for women better reflected than the Friday prayer sessions held every Friday in the cafeteria of Valley Park Middle School, on Overlea Boulevard, in the City of Toronto. After a systematic heavyweight lobbying activity, politicians eager to cater to Islamic whims in return for future Muslim votes in their ridings pressured decision-makers in the TDSB to allow the use of a public secular educational institution as an arena where the will of Allah should unfold.
Every Friday (Islam’s version of the Lord’s Day), up to 400 Muslim students at Valley Park Middle School are gathered in the school cafeteria for a prayer session. The seating arrangements are imposed by the Muslim cleric supervising the prayer to reflect the directives of Allah. “Girls sit behind boys during prayers and girls who are menstruating must sit behind everyone. Non-Muslims are not allowed into the cafeteria during prayers”
It seems that decision makers of the TDSB who approved the Friday prayer session for Muslim students, and their political allies in the government of Ontario, are the victims of a political problem known as “Selective Amnesia”. They conveniently forgot that a public secular educational institution has a mandate to nourish and educate the mind. The salvation of the soul of any Muslim human being should be confined to the premises of a mosque. They conveniently committed the criminal omission of imposing humiliating practices, inherited from the dark ages of Islam, on modern day Muslim school girls forced to accept gender inequality as an edict from Allah.
Why should Muslim girls sit behind Muslim boys? Didn’t we put an end, with the tremendous sacrifices of thousands of Canadian women who fought hard for equality rights, to similar religious practices adopted by Christianity and Judaism? If our society strongly adheres to the principles of gender equality, in the workplace, in any public institution, why are we allowing an institutionalized form of inequality to parade under the masque of accommodating religious differences? Why does Islam feel the need today to remind young Muslim female students that they are inferior creatures that should sit behind Muslim male students? Last but not least, why do we allow Islam the use of our publicly funded institutions to impose on Muslim female students the erroneous Koranic interpretation of menstruation as an “illness”?
“And they ask you about menstruation. Say: It is an illness; therefore keep aloof from the women during the menstrual discharge and do not go near them until they have become clean; then when they have cleansed themselves, go in to them as Allah has commanded you; surely Allah loves those who turn much (to Him), and He loves those who purify themselves “ (The Koran 2:222).
And what other burdens does menstruation impose on a Muslim female student? “She should avoid mosques or places of worship, and cannot touch the Koran, whether the original or in translation. She cannot recite it from memory, but can read the verses of prayer and supplication with the intention of praying.” In other words, Allah, the God of Islam, though He invested in woman the power of giving birth to a new life, and made menstruation an integral part of the reproductive ability of a woman, decided that the unclean aspects of this ability is a sin/illness, and no menstruating dirty woman should touch the Koran or repeat Allah’s will as expressed in the Koran.
Aren’t these dark archaic religious practices an insult to all women in Canada? As a society how far are we willing to go to tolerate the intolerable? How much of degradation and dehumanization of women are we willing to accept, in order to coexist with religious chauvinism? Why is YWCA Canada so silent on these issues? If the YWCA perceives itself as a strong voice fighting for equality for all women in Canada, why did the organization abandon the Muslim female students of Valley Park Middle School, and casually allow their minds to be manipulated and moulded by religious fanaticism? Why is the YWCA refusing to see the clear erosion of the equality rights of Muslim female students in an educational institution where secularism has mandated that they should be treated as equals? Why can’t the YWCA advise our politicians to remember the following prophetic warnings of Sir Winston Churchill?
“The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property — either as a child, a wife, or a concubine — must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men…Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die. But the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science — the science against which it had vainly struggled — the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.”
— The River War: An Account of the Reconquest of Sudan, pages 248-250 of the second volume.
Why are Canadian women hiding behind a wall of silence and passively witnessing the crime to turn the clock back and endorse oppression, by supporting bad choices made by Muslim women and considered the norm by Muslim men, especially men in the clerical establishment?
Muslim clerics, from the far corners of Indonesia to Egypt, and from the remote villages of Chechnya to the modern cities of Saudi Arabia, made it a habit to blame women for every tragedy this planet has seen. Three cases are worthy of elaboration because they clearly provide the tangible evidence that not much has changed since the seventh century AD in the way Muslim men perceive women, thanks to the chauvinistic preaching of Muslim clerics.
The first case has its origins in Iran, where a cleric named Hojatoleslam Kazem Sediqi, closely connected to the inner circle of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hoseyn Khamenei, integrated into his Friday’s sermons the habit of blaming immodest Iranian women for everything from earthquakes to leading young Iranian men into the world of sin and degradation. Sediqi often argued that “Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes”. The solution according to Sediqi is very simple : “There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam’s moral codes” . Now if a natural earthquake hits Tehran, no one will be able to confront such a calamity but God’s power, only God’s power. So let us not disappoint God.”
During his Friday sermons he frequently reminds his male followers that God’s rules of female modesty must be imposed on women through the superior power of men, and if they resist they shouldn’t be afraid of using physical force, totally sanctioned by God in the following Koranic verse: “As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Allah is high supreme”. (Koran 4:34)
Ontario did not remain immune to such radical interpretations of the will of Allah to see modesty imposed on Muslim women. In December 2007, Aqsa Parvez, a teenager who refused to wear traditional Muslim clothing, was the victim of an “honour killing” committed by her father Muhammad Parvez, and her brother Waqas Parvez.
In May 2009, A man who killed his sister and her fiancé because they brought dishonour on his family was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. Hasibullah Sadiqi, 23, said nothing after a jury of seven men and five women found him guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the Sept. 19, 2006 gun slayings of his sister, Khatera Sadiqi, 20, and her fiancé, Feroz Mangal, 23. The couple were shot to death while they sat in Khatera’s car in the Elmvale Mall parking lot just before 1 a.m.
“Your crimes have shocked and bewildered the people of almost every community in the nation’s capital,” said Ontario Superior Court Justice Douglas Rutherford, who sentenced Sadiqi immediately following the verdict. “The forfeiture of your liberty for the rest of your life only seems just.”
I wonder how many more Canadian Muslim women will be casually sacrificed on the altar of Islamic rules of modesty before the YWCA decries the religious principles that condone violence against Muslim women?
The second example is from Chechnya, where Muslim cleric Mullah Mairbek Yusupov treats cases of female hysteria and other mental illnesses, triggered by abusive Muslim husbands who use physical and psychological terror to impose strict obedience, seeing disobedience as satanic possession and performing exorcisms to evict the devil from immodest Muslim women. The British journalist who wrote about the desperate plight of Chechen women forced to endure all kinds of humiliation has this to say: “The therapy is a way of making them accept, or at least deal with, what has happened. But, it is most of all, an expression of their powerlessness. The tragedy of these women is that they have nowhere else to go.”
Last but not least, we move to Australia to cover the sermons of Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilali, the most senior cleric in the realm representing Australia’s 350,000 Muslims. Sheikh al-Hilali gained the notorious reputation for blaming immodest scantily-clad women for inviting men to rape them. His famous analogy during Friday sermons was to compare immodestly-dressed women to “uncovered meat”. On several occasions, he asked an exclusively male audience gathered in his mosque for Friday prayers the following question: “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside… and the cats come and eat it… whose fault is it, the cats’ or the uncovered meat?” According to statistics gathered by al-Hilali “…when it comes to adultery, it’s 90% the women’s responsibility. Why? Because a woman possesses the weapon of seduction.” His favourite solution: “If I come across a rape crime-kidnap and violation of honour, I would discipline the man and order that the woman be arrested and jailed for life.” Al-Hilali goes one step further and demonizes women by pointing out to his male audience that: “Satan tells women: ‘You are my weapon to bring down any stubborn man. There are men that I fail with. But you’re the best of my weapons’.”
When Prime Minister John Howard decided to force the controversial cleric to step down, because his degrading views about women were totally incompatible with the secular values of most Australians, the cleric arrogantly replied: “The Anglo-Saxons arrived in Australia in shackles. We (Muslims) came as free people. We bought our own tickets. We are entitled to propagate our views in Australia more than they are.”
For the sake of maintaining social harmony we will coexist peacefully with the oppressive messages and symbolisms of the sin of menstruation, the “burqa” or the “niqab”, and we will always condemn the sin but love the sinner while angrily watching Muslim women in Canada sink deeper and deeper into the abyss of degradation and dehumanization. As a society, excluding Canadian politicians who are ready to sell their souls to the devil to collect Muslim votes, we will never submit to the dictates of a cruel Allah, and we will repeat to our politicians the statements of condemnation made by Sir Winston Churchill, to all British politicians who supported the policy of appeasement and refused to challenge the Nazi expansionist political agenda in Europe:
“If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival.”
— Sir Winston Churchill
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